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What’s With Other Genealogy Software Developers? - Fri, 13 May 2011

I just finished reading Tamura Jones’ latest genealogy software review on The Master Genealogist’s (TMG) Public Beta 8. I’ve stated before that I think Tamura’s reviews are the best on the web. They are full of solid sound advice that the software author should listen to, and doing so will lead to significant improvements to their program.

In the case of TMG, a program that has a good team with a lot of knowledge and experience behind it, you’d think they’d be looking at their reviews. Tamura comments that the Beta has added a new report engine to work in 64-bit Windows and made some other small changes. But he reports horror stories about its installation, import capabilities and speed, GEDCOM compliance (and its “export Wizard from hell”), its lack of Unicode support, and its more than unfriendly user interface.

What bothers me most about all of this is that Tamura had reviewed TMG 7 over 3 years ago. There are still many outstanding problems he reported then, that still exist in the new version today.

Are software developers not trying to improve their program’s quality? Do they not want to eliminate the sore spots of their programs? You’d think 3 years would be enough to at least address the worst of the concerns that reviewers point out.

TMG is not alone. Tamura continues to mention that Legacy does not run on 64-bit machines, but Millennia have never mentioned that they are working on fixing that major flaw. And Ancestry probably could seriously improve Family Tree Maker and put a stranglehold on the genealogy marketplace if they’d follow and use Tamura’s articles as a roadmap for them.

Ancestry almost had complete domination of the genealogy software industry some years back after they gobbled Ultimate Family Tree and Generations and Family Origins (their biggest opposition at the time) and theirs dominated the retail store shelves. On top of that, FamilySearch was getting out of the software market. At the time, Ancestry’s users were fanatical and loved Family Tree Maker. Their user groups were plentiful and everywhere. … But then something happened. They fumbled the ball. Did a rewrite. Alienated their current users. Allowed Bruce Buzbee to start up again and provide real competition. Allowed Legacy to take away some market share. Did not become the dominant player in the online family tree world, but let 100 startups divide the pot instead. Ancestry had domination at their fingertips, and let it go. But they have the clout and power to achieve it again - if they listen to the community and improve, or get dirty and buy up their competition again.

Instead Ancestry is very slow at implementing needed improvements and Family Tree Maker’s users complain and Tamura has to make Ancestry a contender for his “Worst Genealogy Product” GeneAward just about every year. Note that when programs are deserving, Tamura does give them credit, as Tamura often has done for RootsMagic and others.

Some developers are listening. I’ve improved the code of Behold based on Tamura’s remarks. RootsMagic has improved their product based on reviews. Incline Software offers a free version that exports GEDCOM now. Recently, Chronoplex added a large icon because Tamura had mentioned them. WikiTree started working on sources after reading “geniology”.

HEY YOU OTHER GENEALOGY SOFTWARE DEVELOPERS OUT THERE!! (Yes, I’m yelling). Go over to Tamura Jones’ Modern Software Experience site right now. Check out what is said about your program. Then work on fixing what is wrong. Then read reviews of other programs. Fix what is wrong in your program that you share in “wrongness” with those other programs. Add to your program what is said to be good in other programs that is not good in your program. Start with: “Twelve Ordinary Must-Have Genealogy Software Features“.

Do that and your current (and future) users will love you for it.

1 Comment           comments Leave a Comment

1. ronfergy (ronfergy)
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Joined: Sat, 14 May 2011
1 blog comment, 0 forum posts
Posted: Sat, 14 May 2011  Permalink

To be accurate, Tamura Jones has only ever reported that Legacy does not run on a *Vista* 64bit machine. As a beta tester for Legacy I yet to hear of another person with this problem. I have run it on a Win7 64bit machine since that o/s was introduced without problem.

Ron

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